Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Libertarian Mess

Followup on things that I've written before - see links in the text.

Back in the good old days, there would be one small "l" libertarian candidate, usually on the Libertarian Party ballot.

But Ron Paul's so-called revolution has descended into anarchy. (Which is probably what a libertarian revolution is supposed to do. But I digress.)

First, Paul ran a libertarian campaign, but decided to run it in the Republican Party, where he didn't have any chance whatsoever of succeeding. Today's Republican Party thinks that "small government" is an abhorrent idea, and the neo-cons weren't going to support Paul under any circumstances.

Yet, in the process of losing the Republican nomination, Paul managed to attract a ton of baba booeys, both on the Internet and otherwise (try driving I-15 south from Baker to Barstow some time; Ron Paul is not an Internet-only phenomenon).

So when Paul, after hemming and hawing, eventually withdrew from the race, you had a bunch of baba booeys waiting for directions from the Fearless Leader. And the Fearless Leader finally directed his worshippers...to Chuck Baldwin of the Constitution Party. Bob Barr, the Libertarian Party candidate, was not amused.

Now I should note that it's not only the Libertarians that are in disarray; as I previously noted, the Constitution Party candidate doesn't appear on the California ballot because of some intra-party warfare between Baldwin and Alan Keyes. And don't forget about Ralph Nader, who flirted with the Green Party four years ago and jilted it in 2008.

But what about the Libertarians and Bob Barr? Marc Gallagher brands Barr's campaign as a failure:

Prior to the Libertarian Convention I was very excited at the prospect of Bob Barr being the party’s nominee. I figured he would be the heir apparent to Ron Paul. I figured he would garner all of Paul’s whole-hearted activist support while bringing in high numbers of voters unhappy with Barry O’Messiah and John McChameleon. As I watched Barr win the nomination at the Libertarian Convention on CSPAN I was energized anew....

Little did I know that would be the high point of my energy for the Barr campaign....

[Barr] never had the support of purist Libertarians. Some of them chose to give him a chance. Others felt they could never support him and were quite vocal about it. Such is the nature of the Libertarian Party. Barr kept making the point in interviews that his party was not a “debating society”, but a “legitimate political party” worthy of serious consideration. The radical wing revolt against Barr demonstrated otherwise. The battle between Libertarian reformers (like Barr) and radicals will continue to the detriment of the party. There is no end in sight.

The nomination of Chuck Baldwin by the Constitution Party also hurt Barr. If the Constitution Party had nominated someone like Alan Keyes instead of Baldwin, Barr would have been the likely recipient of Ron Paul’s endorsement. Baldwin’s nomination ensured that Paul’s devotees would be split....Unfortunately, the success of Barr’s campaign was directly dependent on winning over Ron Paul supporters and a Ron Paul endorsement.

An endorsement which, as I noted above, Barr did not receive.

So now Baldwin, Barr, Keyes, and Paul (as an official write-in candidate) are on various ballots around the country.

Again, this is not the only disarray in the presidential election, inasmuch as McKinney, Nader, and others are splitting the vote on the left. And, in one sense none of this matters, because none of these people will register in double digits for this election.

But it's still a mark of how odd this election is.

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